Williams seizes moment
as Pacers stop Bobcats
By Conrad Brunner | March 19, 2008
With Danny Granger joining the All-Star cast of absentees – albeit temporarily – with a sprained right wrist, the Pacers were running short of conventional options.
Luckily for them, some unconventional methods provided much-needed compensation. Getting 38 points combined from one guy that had played a total of six minutes in the previous nine games and another that wasn't on the roster three weeks ago, the Pacers built a 13-point lead with 5:24 remaining and hung on in the face of yet another furious Charlotte rally to survive the Bobcats 102-95 Wednesday in Conseco Fieldhouse.
"We don't make it easy on ourselves against anyone," said Coach Jim O'Brien. "The main thing is to just go home to bed up one point at the end of the game. That's our goal every time we play a game and we were up seven at the end of this one, which was good."
Their second straight victory pulled the Pacers (27-41) two games behind eighth-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Charlotte (24-44) last its fifth in a row.
Making his third start after joining the Pacers on March 1, Flip Murray scored 14 of his season-high 22 in the third quarter when the Pacers erased a deficit that had grown as large as 13 in the first half.
"He's very good off the bounce and he got a little bit of a hot hand and we tried to go to him as much as possible," O'Brien said. "We rested him at the beginning of the fourth quarter and when he came back in he really did things that were necessary to get us back over the hump."
Shawne Williams emerged from the end of the bench and scored 16 points in 17 minutes, 14 in the fourth quarter including the team's first 10. Williams had been mired in a deep slump, shooting 5-of-36 in a six-game stretch that preceded his benching.
"Sometimes it's good to have somebody just watch for awhile from the sideline and see if you can't stimulate something that would allow him to come out and kind of turn his season around," O'Brien said. "We would not have won that basketball game without Shawne Williams."
They almost didn't win it at all.
Matt Carroll started Charlotte's late rally with eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Jason Richardson scored the next six in a 14-2 run that cut the lead to 96-95 with 1:35 left. For the Pacers, who had blown double-digit second-half leads in two previous losses to the Bobcats, the scenario had to border on the nightmarish.
But the defense forced consecutive turnovers and Marquis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy and Williams converted free throws, allowing the Pacers to escape.
"Up to that point in time we weren't really doing a bad job taking care of the basketball and then we had a couple of really very, very poor turnovers that allowed them to get back in," said O'Brien. "No excuses, but our guys hung tough and did what was necessary to pull that out."
PACERS COACH JIM O'BRIEN
“We did what was necessary, especially in the third quarter. Our defense was outstanding. We had a couple of really poor turnovers that allowed them to get back in but we hung in there. We don’t make it easy for ourselves against anyone. Shawne Williams was great for us. Sometimes it’s good for someone to watch from the sidelines. We would not have won that game without Shawne. Flip Murray was very, very strong. He’s very good off the bounce and he got a little bit of a hot hand and we tried to get it to him as much as possible.”
PACERS FORWARD TROY MURPHY
“I think we’ve capitalized on a couple of struggling teams and we can build on this. We have toughed it through a few games there and now I hope this has helped us turn the corner."
(On his play) "Given the opportunity to play I have been able to get into a groove and know my role and help this team for the playoff march. I feel good about myself, my teammates and overall.”
PACERS GUARD FLIP MURRAY
(On winning games) "All these games count now. We are trying to make the playoffs so we’ve got to bring it to them every night. I tried to bring a lot of energy onto the floor and for my teammates. When I go up the middle I can open up some lanes for our shooters. We have a lot of shooters. We are trying to play our ‘A’ game all the time.”
BOBCATS COACH SAM VINCENT
(on the loss) "Very frustrating but it’s a script we’ve seen a lot. A lot of close games but we just don’t close the games out and don’t come out with a win. Our guys respected them and defended them but there’s always one little thing we don’t do in the end to get a win. That’s something we have to do better. We’re not talking about playoffs, instead we’re trying to go into every game and play hard. We want to focus on playing well. We focus on the positives. Ryan Hollins played a good game and we continue to try to grow as a team.”
BOBCATS GUARD MATT CARROLL
(On being on a five game losing streak) "We’re struggling when we don’t execute. We’re trying to attack the basket and not rely on jumpers so much. When we do that, it opens up shots for everybody and we all benefit. Our lack of free throw attempts in our last few losses shows you our lack of aggressiveness. We have guys on this team who are capable of getting to the basket, drawing fouls and getting to the line. When we drive, that forces the other team to help and that’s when you get your open shots.”
BOBCATS FORWARD GERALD WALLACE
“We are off our game, we are struggling the third quarter. That’s where we lost the game tonight and where we’ve been losing them. It’s forcing us to fight in the fourth quarter to come back but that is hard to do when teams are playing at home. This is the NBA. It’s hard to play on the road. We started this trip with three title contending teams and we felt like we gave some of those games away. But it comes down to the third quarter. Our turnovers and scoring drought, and they were able to take advantage of it.”